Don’t let the southern drawl, “aw-shucks” demeanor, goofy phrases or mispronouncing of his players’ names fool you. University of South Carolina head football coach Steve Spurrier is dead serious with his suggestion that the “time has to come,” to pay college athletes, particularly those from revenue sports. In fact, if you read between the lines, there is much, much more to Spurrier’s comments than football players getting three or four thousand bucks a season.
Of course, at the heart of Spurrier’s proposal/suggestion was the notion that the money would come out of the pockets of head coaches to the tune of around $285,000 per year. Spurrier even suggested that he believed he had the support of all the SEC coaches.
For the record, let it be known that more than 48 hours have passed since Spurrier made the suggestion of how to spend $285,000 of his colleagues money annually. In those 48-plus hours, men named Nick Saban, Les Miles and Mark Richt, amongst other, have each taken the podium.
Not one has told Spurrier to go shove it for his suggestion about how to spend their money.
So while Spurrier says college football players should make a small “stipend,” let me clear on something: this is about a lot more than a small stipend. And allow me to translate what Spurrier actually means. To do this, I will utilize the first person.
We (the SEC) have 1,200 national press who traveled to Hoover, Alabama of all places in the middle of July to cover our SEC Media Days. Our conference has won seven consecutive national championships, our revenues and popularity are at an all-time high, and every single coach in this league could scratch a check for $285,000 this second, and be completely unaffected.
Yet for some reason, we still have to deal with the incompetent, antiquated, provincial and reactionary NCAA. Whether its the backward recruiting rules that don’t allow for cost-of-attendance scholarships, their insistence on the sanctity of amateurism in a multi-billion dollar industry, or the fact that Notre Dame carries the same voting power as our conference, the NCAA is not doing us any favors.
Furthermore, we’ve reached a level of power and prestige where let’s face it: we don’t need the NCAA anymore. We can get the other BCS conferences, break off and form our subdivision, re-write the rules, eliminate the dog and pony show of amateurism, and better serve our student-athletes.
Now, that said, we would want to accomplish these goals within the parameters of the governing structure in place. This is why I have suggested we begin by paying players a small stipend.
Of course, we all know you’re not going to agree. Instead of listening, you’ll wax poetic with the typical diatribes about the virtues of amateurism, and tell us how student-athletes getting a full scholarship is payment enough.
While those responses have appeased us for decades, the times have changed, and they no longer suffice. We have no more interest in the sanctity of amateurism, and no interest in being treated on equal footing with rowing, gymnastics and softball. Heck, if we want to see amateurism at work we’ll check in on you guy adjudicating a tattoo-memorabilia swap.
In closing, Spurrier has told us the era of players in major revenue being paid, is coming. Sure, it might be a few years off, and the exact details of it, remain to be seen.
But it will be here, and it will be here with or without, the NCAA.